In their first ever appearance in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, the MBU baseball team has won its first game. The Spartans, top seeded in the Group Nine Tournament, beat the fourth seeded Texas Wesleyan University 9-4 on Tuesday night.
Leading 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth, the Spartans took control of the game scoring five times to establish an 8-1 lead. Spartan pitchers Drew Firebaugh and Victor Gonzalez kept the Rams at bay for the rest of the contest to lock down the victory.
Missouri Baptist (42-13) cracked the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by Aaron Phillips to right field. Texas Wesleyan (30-27), who had beaten Kansas Wesleyan earlier in the day, countered with a run of their own in the top of the third on Justin Keller's double to right center knotting the score at 1-1. The Spartans responded with two more runs in the third when pitcher Drew Cavender issued a bases loaded walk to Armando Gutierrez and gave up a sacrifice fly to Jacob Greminger to make it 3-1.
In the fourth, Matt Holliman and Adrian Martinez had RBI singles while Gutierrez doubled home another run. Holliman accounted for the other score in the inning when he came in on a throwing error and when the dust had settled the Spartans had a commanding 8-1 lead. Missouri Baptist got their final run of the night in the sixth on an RBI fielder's choice by Greminger.
Texas Wesleyan battled back for a pair of runs in the seventh on home runs by Vincent Winter and Adam Resendez to cut the deficit to 9-3. The Rams added their final run in the eighth on a Kyle Frasard run scoring base hit to left field to make it 9-4, but could not plate another run the rest of the game.
Drew Firebaugh earned the win for Missouri Baptist pitching 7.1 innings allowing four runs on seven hits with a walk. Firebaugh fanned 11 Texas Wesleyan hitters and kept the Rams offense off balance running his record to 8-3. Gutierrez went 2 for 4 with two runs batted in while Matt Holliman added two hits and an RBI. Greminger also had 2 RBI's on the night to help lead the Spartans at the plate.
The win by Missouri Baptist sets up a matchup with the host, second seeded
Belhaven University, in the winner's bracket game at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday